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Google Updates and SERP Changes - August 2013

   
1:44 am on Aug 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 16 messages were cut out of thread at: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4589243.htm [webmasterworld.com] by engine - 4:03 pm on Aug 1, 2013 (utc +1)


There is certainly a disconnect/time lag between Google spidering site changes and those changes taking effect, and with the "rolling Panda" and Penguin (in which remote changes may impact your site) it really is getting impossible to get a clear idea of what is going on.


The results are fluid but not as much as we would believe.

When updates are rolled out they change the value of pages/links. The change in values makes the current rollout instantly obsolete which will impact the next rollout, and the next. While the changes are current they impact page rank which sends ripples out that won't be accounted for until a future update.

The trick is to not add more flux to the ripples hitting your own site by making too many dramatic changes. Reduce spam pointing at your site, create great content and acquire solid backlinks where possible... but don't turn the puzzle upside down too often with dramatic changes or you keep starting over.
1:01 am on Aug 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Interesting: I'm seeing two distinctly different datasets for some queries right now. One search will produce a resultset with a site in the top 10 and the same query later will not show the same site on the first 3 pages.
1:16 am on Aug 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

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They no longer use scrapers. Instead they copy bits from similar articles and mash it together. They then use a thesaurus to replace many of the words with similar words.


That's the beauty of Panda and Penguin for the churn and burn spammers. Panda only runs once a month (usually) and Penguin runs less often. That's a huge window of opportunity for people to rank crappy content with crappy links.

To add to their merriment, Panda and Penguin did thin the herd of the less sophisticated spammers that didn't see that window of opportunity. Less competition....

So, if you're in the C&B business, and you have some degree of skill, things are better than they ever were.
7:48 am on Aug 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

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rish3, I agree. Also don't forget the huge number of genuine small businesses that got hit with Panda/Penguin that simply disappeared or relaunched, but without spamming. All these sites are nowhere in the SERPs now - even less competition for spammers. So we find ourselves in a situation where the "high street" is being occupied by brands and fly-by-nighters and genuine businesses are trying to sell their wares (that people do want) in some obsure alleyway nobody ever walks down.
9:14 am on Aug 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Wow, for a certain highly competitive commercial national term, just "widget cleaning" throws up a site (number 1) that doesn't even have "any" text, the text is an IMAGE used as a background! lol WTF?
10:26 am on Aug 2, 2013 (gmt 0)



Wow, for a certain highly competitive commercial national term, just "widget cleaning" throws up a site (number 1) that doesn't even have "any" text, the text is an IMAGE used as a background! lol WTF?

When a site has X number of repetitive keywords (panda) and Y number of links pointing to it (penguin), the site becomes penalized. Since the threshold for X and Y are so low, many sites are penalized to some varying degree IMO. This allows incomplete sites and utter garbage the ability to rise to the top because such sites are someone's afterthought - posted some time ago and left for dead.

The fact that so many people are complaining how their stolen content is outranking them, most likely because their site is penalized to some degree, it is a good indication of just how little Google values actual content in the grand scheme of ranking a website.
10:41 am on Aug 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

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turbocharged agreed, these people really do not care about their websites. Looking at TWO other examples of top ranked sites in "code view" and they have no text content themselves (title and des c only), the text content it does display from a user perspective is in fact in an "iframe" so wouldn't even count as that pages content.

Recently I posted that I brought up several test domains, put up under contraction pages that mention the forthcoming service, just a single line of text and these all ranked on page one the same week, I added 300 well written words to one and it immediately dropped to page 3 lol

Can this really last because the quality of the websites at the top are diabolical, that's not an opinion its a fact, they are beyond terrible in many cases and the content, non-existent or painfully shallow, surely this isn't going to last?

[edited by: CaptainSalad2 at 11:52 am (utc) on Aug 2, 2013]

11:02 am on Aug 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

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A fair number of my information pages directly about the topic which use to rank in the top 5 for years have disappeared (still rank fine in the other SE). What I have started to see is pages of mine starting to rank (page 2) that are about the topic but not directly. They are also buried deeper in my site. It's like Google is ignoring the more relevant pages of my site for some reason (which I believe is due to negative SEO).

July was not good to me and Aug 1st was about the worst day ever in probably the last 8 years. I am down to a about a quarter of the traffic I use to get.
11:37 am on Aug 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@JD_Toims - I tried to report this in a different thread (got merged into another that was inactive for some reason)...anyhow...

Our site has done that this week - one minute our SERPs look great (page 1), next minute we're back to page 3 again. Very odd.
1:44 pm on Aug 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member zeus is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I was wondering if good ranking is now all the matter of a user type in your domain/brand name a lot and links to your site. I know everyone talks about content, I just dont see that, there are SO many bad sites ranking the last two years. I really think the above mentioned ranking methods would be something to think about.
2:37 pm on Aug 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@serpsguy - I totally agree. When I post here, I am simply reporting the carnage, I gave up guessing "why" long ago. Google defies their own logic and seems to be the magical master of misdirection. They don't want us to know how it all works, so stop trying to figure it out and you live a happier life.
2:40 pm on Aug 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Not all. And not all content too. Navigation, site architecture, and overall user experience count heavily too. But first you have to make sure your business model comes correct (even if you aren't a business) - are you filling a need that's not better filled elsewhere, are you giving your users a reason to come back over and over, and do they find your site useful? Content is important, make no mistake, but it's not *all* that's important.
3:05 pm on Aug 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member zeus is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I had a site with 40.000 unique visits a day, now 500. I changed the site completely, bounce went from 85% to 50%, time on site from 0.48 to 2 min, but the site kept declining.
3:28 pm on Aug 2, 2013 (gmt 0)



Just created a new product page and submitted url via GWT. Went to google.co.uk within a few seconds and it had been crawled, indexed and ranks on page 1 for the main keyword (incognito mode in Chrome). The other 9 results come from just 4 domains, all mom & pop type companies (although the product isn't currently available through brands like ebay and amazon).

We're a relatively small site and G. normally takes days (if not weeks) to crawl and index new pages. Hopefully, this will last (page has no backlinks and 1 internal link, yet...) and is not an "artificial high" for new content.
7:41 pm on Aug 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

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bsand715 can you check if its site wide or has "rel=nofollow"

Sorry to take so long CaptainSald2. Sitewide, only a 6 page site, (has no "rel=nofollow")
10:10 pm on Aug 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

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So, yesterday my host has my site down all day, yet some visitors managed to access the site and buy, now today, the host claims everything is fixed, yet traffic is now at a trickle and no buyers whatsoever...makes me wonder if these OFF periods are not due to my web host (HG)...not just G.
Anyone else notice very thin, non interactive traffic today? I'll refrain from the Z word.
10:55 pm on Aug 3, 2013 (gmt 0)



@backdraft

I think the long down time earned us some negative brownie points with Google. I see less traffic week over week for quite a few of my holdings.

Hope things will turn back on once Google revisits.

Anyone else that gets hit by EIG's hiccup experience the similar thing with their google ranking / traffic?
1:30 am on Aug 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@backdraft7 I doubt it was due to being down for a day. Happens to everyone once in a while and Google realizes this, plus I have heard that thousands of sites were down because of some major hosts being offline.

- A little of topic for the thread - If you are worried about your host you should subscribe to a monitoring service and they will ping your site, or send a query, or check for certain line of text, etc.. once every x minutes if you want. They cost like $10 a month and most do it from multiple locations from around the world.
1:30 pm on Aug 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Is this what google wants now ?
This is analysis from a #5 site in my niche recent change from page 3.

Title00%
Meta Description 0 0% (1 occurrences)website
Meta Keywords 0 0% (1 occurrences)
H1 0 0% (1 occurrences)
H2 0 0% (1 occurrences)

H3 0 0% (1 occurrences)
No Robot meta
No robot text
No sitemap XML
2:25 pm on Aug 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Jester - I used to use Safe Site, formerly Alert Site, but as my traffic and income and has continually fallen, I have had to drop these services. Every time I make a sale, my cell phone alerts me with a "kaching!" sound, so when more than a few hours go by without that sound, I know something is awry.

I did let my BBB accreditation lapse last Thursday (had since 2006), due to lack of sales, so maybe it had more clout than I thought. I'll bite the bullet and renew that tomorrow. I still suspect issues with HG's Provo DC.
5:44 am on Aug 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Sunday ended with the highest traffic of the summer so far, yet abysmal conversions. I attribute the increase to adding my blog area back...an addition 150 pages.
6:34 am on Aug 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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That's what you would expect with new content backdraft, like a rock thrown in water it draws people's attention, at least momentarily. How many eyes return depend on how deep the water was and how big the rock was. Big rocks in shallow pools are the most fun! But enough with the analogies... I'm seeing a lot of old tools being used to figure out issues they weren't built for.

example: If you write a 40,000 word article about wonderful widgets using only your own words and opinions it must be unique+thick, correct?

Not so. If your 40,000 words didn't convey new information about wonderful widgets that isn't found on a dozen other sites then it can be considered a thin page, it's not about word count. It can also be considered duplicate even if all of it is original by you because you probably describe the same features that other sites described already.

- wonderful widgets are fun.
- I have a lot of fun with my wonderful widgets.
- The fun factor on wonderful widgets is refreshingly pleasing, to wit I enjoyed mine all weekend long.

All three of those examples are duplicate since they are all about fun + wonderful widgets

You need to find a fresh angle on things, something others aren't discussing already in their articles. Relate wonderful widgets to non-wonderful widgets or describe what makes them wonderful with data to support your claims, perform research on what uses wonderful widgets have etc... all of these would have set the article apart.

Tools are good but panda has some interpretation built in that isn't easy to decipher, at least not with most common tools.

Edit: As I wrote this I was visualizing a Google rater looking at new pages while they were being created. "Oh look, Jeff is doing a Google search for wonderful widgets so he's about to write an article about exactly what's out there already, *yawn*".

moments later

"oh snap - Cindy just posted a youtube video about some of her experiments and she's probably going to do a writeup on her blog now, I can't wait, that was cool!"

I hope you see what I'm getting at about unique not being unique etc. If you could only read Matt Cutt's mind when someone says the have "unique content"... he probably grumbles inside :)
10:16 am on Aug 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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- wonderful widgets are fun.
- I have a lot of fun with my wonderful widgets.
- The fun factor on wonderful widgets is refreshingly pleasing, to wit I enjoyed mine all weekend long.

All three of those examples are duplicate since they are all about fun + wonderful widgets


Sounds good advice but in truth G is not that clever IMO. They fall foul of so many far simpler tricks that believing they can compare one article to many others on the same subject and come to a meaningful conclusion as far as non-duplicate but at the same time duplicate content is stretching their capabilities.

It also ignores the fact that a new article might have almost duplicate content but at the same time it may be expressed far better and in a more amusing / attractive manner - that alone should, in a fair world, result in the new article being ranked higher.

Content is not the be all and end all - the manner in which it is presented can far outweigh just the basic content.

"Jim is a cool guy who first started writing lyrics in his home town of California in 1993"

might be deemed by some as better than an original article

"Jim lived in the south USA when he began to author the lyrics to some songs in the early 90s"

Nearly the same information but the first could well be deemed to better by some.
10:36 am on Aug 5, 2013 (gmt 0)



JS_Harris, while I would agree with everything that has been said about originality and a unique approach, it is not interpreted by Google that way IMO.

How scrapers can flagrantly steal and rank stolen content these days is a good indication of just how much Google values content. Post that stolen content on a Google owned property and it ranks even easier. Yes, one could argue that the site where the content was stolen from has some sort of penalty. But on the other hand, one could argue that if content is king why has Google allowed that king to be dethroned.

While I believe in providing value to end users, with each page I create, I don't believe Google looks at it that way. I believe Google looks closely at how they can monetize everything that we create and ranks these pages accordingly (along with other variables of course). In the case of information, Google retains more control over that content if it is hosted on one of their properties - quite possibly monetized with Adsense or at a very minimum with Analytics installed so they can collect data.

Quite simply, Google's algorithm is not a non-discriminatory piece of code. Artificial or manual boosts are given to their properties, "associates," and brands while a great deal of awesome content sits deep within the serps because it does not provide value to Google. End users on the other hand, may find it quite useful. But if Google stands nothing to gain from ranking such pages, its usefulness will never be known by end users and there is no damage done to Google's public perception.
11:58 am on Aug 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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if Google stands nothing to gain from ranking such pages, its usefulness will never be known by end users and there is no damage done to Google's public perception


Google has a great deal to gain by showing the most appropriate content for the end user. That is what earned them their current position, and public perception will be damaged if they continue to disappoint searchers (which, in my view, their current results must be doing).

Their reputation for returning good results is robust, and will withstand - is withstanding - lapses in performance, but it isn't indestructible.
1:30 pm on Aug 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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For a company that demands trust and authority, Google has certainly squandered both.
1:33 pm on Aug 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I'm not worried about they way G interprets the new content (which is actually old content that has been moved to a new blog directory location), I AM worried that it will dilute my main content. The blog is also a responsive "mobile" site. Many SEO experts recommend having TWO sites, one for desktop, one for mobile. I disagree. You should have ONE site that is responsive to handle both.
Otherwise, you're asking for a dupe penalty.

Still lotsa tire kickers out there...not many buyers anymore...41% mobile traffic does not help.
2:18 pm on Aug 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Do you get enough keyword data to determine whether the mobile users are searching the same way as the desktop users?
3:03 pm on Aug 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Many SEO experts recommend having TWO sites, one for desktop, one for mobile. I disagree. You should have ONE site that is responsive to handle both.
Otherwise, you're asking for a dupe penalty.


If you mean two URLs per page (www.site.com, m.site.com) I see your point. But don't forget you can deliver content in a different way for the very same URL (e.g. www.site.com/page.html), depending on useragent.
3:39 pm on Aug 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Content is not the be all and end all - the manner in which it is presented can far outweigh just the basic content.


I think people tend to confuse "content" with "data" or "information." in reality, "content" is the entire package. For example, two different chefs could write omelette cookbooks, and each might have recipes for a basic omelette nature, a cheese omelette, a Western omelette, an omelette aux fine herbes, and so forth. Much of the data (the basic recipe information) would be the same, but the content (the instructional text, the photos, etc.) would be very different.

Many SEO experts recommend having TWO sites, one for desktop, one for mobile. I disagree. You should have ONE site that is responsive to handle both.
Otherwise, you're asking for a dupe penalty.


Google addresses this in the "Separate Mobile URLs" section of:

[developers.google.com...]

In a nutshell: rel="canonical" is your friend.
3:49 pm on Aug 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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backdraft7 do you just use separate CSS for the mobile version?
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